Tata Storytime is a unique production dedicated to telling stories with Black leads, read by award-winning Black actors, to improve representation of Black figures on children’s screens.
Tàta Storytime is a one of a kind YouTube channel that showcases influential black figures and characters created for children. The Storytime channel was created by Okezie Morro, an actor who created the show after being inspired by his daughter.
“I was disappointed at the lack of books that had lead characters that look like my daughter and also the lack of books that reflected our heritage,” says Okezie.
The aim of Tàta Storytime is to “educate and entertain.”
All stories feature a Black protagonist and Black characters. They are read by the actors with expressive voices and facial expressions along with added sound effects, which help bring the stories to life. The aim of Tàta Storytime is to “educate and entertain,” says Okezie.
Storytellers include celebrated actress and writer, Susan Wokoma, Arinzé Kene, actor and playwright who most recently appeared in Netflix musical, Been So Long; as well as Adjoa Andoh, a well-known face on British television, appearing on BBC productions Casualty and EastEnders.
“It’s really important that children can see themselves reflected on the page and on the screen as they begin to develop and navigate the world,” says Okezie.
Representation in early stages is particularly important, because it shapes how children view minorities and how minority children view themselves.
“…The mainstream will catch up eventually, but we must all keep pushing with our individual efforts as it will make a collective difference.”
The development of Okezie’s channel is a step towards an inclusive experience for Black children. Black faces are disproportionately represented in the media, including children’s books, with studies showing 7% of british children’s books feature ethnic representation; and only 4% have a Black, Asian and minority ethnic protagonist, compared to the 33.1% of Black, Asian and minority ethnic children who make up classrooms in England.
Tàta Storytime includes the story: Riley can be anything by Davina Hamilton, a story about a young Black boy who realises he can be anything if he puts his mind to it. The channel also features: Who do I see in the Mirror by Vese Aghoghovbia Aladewolu, which tells the story of a little girl who appreciates her every feature and discovers she is more than her appearance.
Tàta Storytime also has a spin off series called Tàta Storytime Folktales with bright and colourful illustrations. The spin off features African and Caribbean folk tales including: Why Fly Pesters Cow.
Okezie wrote on Instagram, “…The mainstream will catch up eventually, but we must all keep pushing with our individual efforts as it will make a collective difference. It’s important that kids see themselves reflected on the page. We can’t wait for change to happen…we must be the change we want to see!”
This article was written by Nicole Hemming